Indio of the Past, Stupid of the Present

Short, flat-nose, dark skin, pouf hair, large lips – most likely features of a Filipino, a race that was once tagged by the Spaniards as “Indios”. After a century, Filipinos have gradually evolved physically out of inter-marriages. However, nothing much has changed.

Looking at the world at large, a social pyramid exists. As Karl Marx wrote in his political book “Communist Manifesto”, the elite few control politics and the economy, while the proletarians (the commoners) are at their mercy. In the Philippines, this is evident. However, the elite few have something else that it controls – education. But then again, these elite few may be educated, but they can be very stupid.

Stupidity is the only segment that does not take part in the social pyramid. Yet, it is strangely shared by the powerful and the powerless, the political and the apolitical, and the wealthy and the impoverished. To many, its opposite intelligence is a question of academic attainment or academic qualifications.

However, reality tells us that it is not so. One’s diploma does not guarantee that one is intelligent. Beneath an impressive exterior there may exist an embarrassing stupidity. Take for example, this person who holds a powerful position in the government. He was a valedictorian in his secondary education at a prestigious exclusive school, he was a consistent dean’s lister in a university abroad, he graduated Magna Cum Laude in college, and he obtained a master’s degree and then later a doctorate degree. Yet, with all these accomplishments, he is stupid. He does not understand the meaning of the word: “resign”.

Some of us are not different from this politician whom many love to hate. Why do you think I wrote this article in English? It is because I know that many readers confine themselves to the superficial. There is an unspoken rule in our country that if one wants to earn attention, more so appreciation, one must speak in English (or any other foreign language, for that matter). I do not deny the importance of the English language. It is, after all, the universal language. However, language is not and should never be the basis for intelligence. I do certainly hope that people will soon realize that language is only an appetizer and that the message is still the entrée.

When I mentioned Marx and his political book, I did not wish that I would be identified as a communist. I am not. I still prefer democracy. It is quite unfortunate, though, that the present government has become identical with the colonizers who called us Indios. What it is doing at present is reminiscent of what these colonizers did. Like a scene from “Noli Me Tangere” or the “El Filibusterismo”, the government tags its critics as communists, terrorists, political destabilizers, dissenters…enemies of the state.

I remember before the devastation that was Reming, Legazpi City was over-protected by Public Safety Officers. A man, who judging by his looks, seemed to be from a far flung area, was fined for smoking. Not far from him were government employees/officials who were smoking, but somehow they were not fined. The man was obviously ignorant; the employees/officials were aware of the law. While it may be true that ignorance excuses no one, the man still had an excuse. The employees/officials did not have an excuse. Now, tell me, who is stupid?

There is indeed a need to remind the government of its purpose –to protect and defend the people, the people who are neither indios nor stupid!

(Originally published in the Monitor, the Special Magazine Issue of the Pegasus- The Official Student Publication of Aquinas University of Legazpi, Vol. I No. II, April 2007 Issue)

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